Monday, September 28, 2009

Stuff to Want

Now that I'm not working I get a lot of curious people asking about "How it's going." I sort of supsect that what they really mean is: "How are you possibly managing to survive with so much less money?" or, even more bluntly put: "Are you miserable yet?"

Well, the fact is that my severance package continues through next month. So thus far I have been having the experience of getting paid but not going to work, a situation that's difficult to complain about, in all honesty.

But there is that nagging sense of the unknown future, and the significant drop in income that is yet to come. So I am trying my best to be frugal in my purchases and lifestyle. You know, confucious says the key to a happy life is to "want what you have." I can do that!

But then the Sunday ads come along, or I run across some products on the internet, and next thing you know, the Wanting What I Don't Have starts to kick in. You may recall last year around this time I started wanting the Do-nu-matic. Just the coolest thing ever and after some serious hinting and a strongarm from the Glenmoor Gals to Larry, there it was under the Christmas tree in all its greasy glory.

But with getting there comes more wanting. Now I want donuts all the time, which is bad for the expanding waistline that I don't want. A neighbor recently learned of my possession, and since she happens to be a pastry chef she generously gifted me with a tub of the actual chocolatey substance that is used on the top of real chocolate eclairs. So as I sit here that tub is in my refrigerator, and I'm trying not to want it, even though I already have it. Oh the conflict!

Here are some of the recent items that have caught my attention this year:

Garage Door Open Indicator

I found this one on the internet, and immediately wanted it because we do have this problem at our house of forgetting to close the garage door. There's nothing worse than getting all snuggled into bed and then having to get up and check if the darn thing is closed. Or worse yet, finding out in the morning that it had been left open all night long, inviting any lazy burgalers or murderers out there free access to come in and stab us as we slept, and then walk out with the don-nu-matic or whatever other of our valuables they may desire. I was all ready to buy but then I noticed that this wasn't exactly an ad for a product but a set of instructions on how to construct and wire one of these yourself. Since I don't know how to rewire a transformer and probably can't now afford an expert to put this together for me, this wonderful invention is off the list.Cruzin Cooler
Maybe you've heard of this, it was in the paper a couple of weeks ago, just in time for football season. It retails for around $450 or so. What I can't get over is the mental image I have of the scenario in which it got invented. Can you just imagine a group of drunken tailgators fooling around by their beer storage saying "Dude, look at me on the cooler! Wouldn't it be fun if I could drive this thing? Yeah, that'd be great!" And then somehow, incredibly, the thing is in existence and people are buying them. Unbelievable.

Bushmaster Shaggy Suit

This was in this week's Meijer ad, and I just couldn't stop staring at it. Look how happy he is, the man in the shaggy suit. It appears that this is intended for hunters, but I can quickly come up with some alternative uses:

1. Camoflage. Just wear it walking around outside! You could be invisible! Imagine the possibilities for getting real close to animals for spying on them. Or even people. No one would know you were there.

2. Fashion statement. Nobody else will be showing up in that at a party! Just think of the compliments for your originality.

3. In lieu of fat pants. I don't know about you but there are days when maybe I've just had a few too many donuts recently. No worries about a little extra on the hips when you can just slip on your Bushmaster Shaggy Suit! I'm sure it hides it all.

Best of all, it's only $69.99 on sale at Meijers. But then again, I must ask myself is this a want or a need?

So, it looks like none of these things are going to be under my Christmas tree this year, but they are good exercises for me to try to control my Wanting. Maybe I should also be examining my wants of being safe, having fun and becoming invisible. I'll let you know how that goes.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


The past several days have been just beautiful. It almost makes up for all of the unusually cold days we had this summer. I know that so many more chilly days are on their way, so I'm trying to soak up every moment of glorious weather while I can. Since we had so much rain this year the lake still has enough water for me to launch the kayak, and I've been so I've been going out for last few evenings when the sun is low in the sky and the water is nice and calm.

Today I paddled along the shore where the land from the park juts out into the lake into kind of a point. I know that the paths through the park don't come near here and so it is where the deer like to spend a lot of their time. You can tell because of the way the brush has been eaten and there are little paths to the lake where they go for water.

I like to watch the deer and it is interesting how they do things in patterns. They tend to follow the same paths, and I know that they travel along the edge of the lake right after the sun sets. That is when we see them crossing through our back yard with their fawns, if we remember to look.

Anyways, there I was paddling along and I was looking into the woods to see if I could spot any of them in there. As much as I like to watch the deer when they walk past my window, I still like to see if I can "catch" them in their normal activities, like a spy. I was staring deeply into the woods as I paddled around the point so I was completely startled when I was suddenly looking face-to-face with a big doe that was standing on one of those paths right at the water's edge.

I stopped paddling and we both just stayed there, frozen still, looking at each other, not more than six feet apart.

As I looked I thought "You lucky free wild thing, you can go anywhere, do anything you want."

The doe looked back at me as if it was thinking: "You lucky human thing with the opposable thumbs, you can hold that paddle and go anywhere you want!"

Well, ok so I don't know what it was thinking, but we definitely shared a moment, and for me, it was magical. I know that some of you think of a deer as something to shoot at, or hit with your car, (Patty) but to me they will always be something of wonder and beauty, every time we meet.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Back to School

The kids went back to school today, so I can finally get near enough to the computer to write in my blog again!

Although there's plenty to say about them starting school, I want to tell you about this past weekend when I went back to my old alma mater, Michigan State, for a football game and reunion of the MSU Tri-Delta sorority chapter.

The boys hadn't been to a Spartan Football game since they were too young to remember, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for them to experience all of the spirit, fun and hoopla of it, as well as inspiration for Tim now that he is in a Marching Band. Since it was so early in the season the weather was gorgeous, and they were playing Montana State (another MSU) which isn't so good of a team so there was lots of scoring by our Spartans.

Of course they loved it all. We had a good view of the student section and how much fun they were having. They looked a lot more organized that the drunken chaos I remember from attending games when I was in school. As I gazed over at them I couldn't help reminiscing about what it was like to be a freshman standing there at my first football game with the brother floor, cheering and dancing around. It was certainly different than where I sat right now with my own family and nearly 25 more years of living behind me. But what struck me is that although I obviously look different, I still feel like the same person, looking out through the same eyes at the big bright spectacle that is Spartan football. It's still me in there.

I can't imagine what the 18 year old Mindy would think if I could see me now, but I can still so clearly remember what it felt like to be a freshman in college. I was nearly overwhelmed with all of the changes happening in my life so quickly, but hopeful about the big uncertain future ahead of me. Maybe that's because at this point in my life I'm going through a lot of the same things, in a different way.

After the game my family went home and I spent the evening with my tri-delta friends who were gathered there for the brunch reunion the next morning. We had dinner and several pitchers of margaritas at the East Lansing Mexican Restaurant called El Azteco. We were there for hours laughing and having fun, and then decided to stop at the hotel to refresh before heading out to hit the bars. I felt really tired and announced that since it was so late maybe I would just go back to the room to sleep. What time was it anyways?

"Nine o-clock you dummy!" They scolded. So I changed into my orthopedic walking shoes and joined back in the fun. I was worried that we would look ridiculously old going in these college bars, but it turned out we were nearly the only ones in there. I remarked that the bar scene must be different nowadays, but then my friends reminded me that the students don't even go out until around 11:00. Oh, yeah.

After making the rounds we landed at a place called Dublins that was featuring live music with a band that night. We found a table out on the patio and could hear the music coming though the wall from inside. They were playing good songs that we remembered from back in "our days." Madonna, Prince, the B-52's: good stuff! Eventually we went in to dance and I had to laugh when I saw the band, the lead singer was in a pink tutu and the band had on polyester track suits and plastic sun glasses. It was a retro 80's theme and they were making fun! Or the old us, anyways. That didn't stop the old new us from taking over the dance floor. It was surreal to be there, in my old college town, with my old college friends, dancing to the same exact music as when we were there as students. And to add even an even more surreal and bizarre touch, we were joined by "Johnny Spirit" who happens to be the brother of one of the women in our group. You know him, he's the guy who paints his body green and goes around the stadium leading cheers in his pajama shorts. It was crazy! It made me tired.

I found out that my comfy shoes are really fun to dance in, and I went back to the room at the not-so-late hour of 10:30. Even though I still feel like the same person on the inside, my body likes to remind me that it is a quarter of a century older now. I need every second of beauty sleep that I can get!

I guess that what I learned on this trip "Back to School" is that although the past is a nice place to visit, I wouldn't want to live there.